Underwater in the Philippines

Underwater in the Philippines

Atlantis Resort, Dumaguete, Negros Island, Philippines
April 23, 2006 – May 3, 2006

Atlantis has two resorts in the Philippines. One is in Puerta Galera and the other in Dumaguete. We decided to go to Atlantis Dumaguete because they have a good home  reef and we could shore dive.

Getting to Dumaguete
To get to Atlantis, we flew from San Francisco to Hong Kong on United, then Hong Kong to Manila on Cathay Pacific. Spent what was left of the night in Manila then on to the island of Negros on Air Philippines. Upon showing our SCUBA certification card and international air ticket stub to the Air Philippines ticket agent, the weight allowance of 20 kg was increased and we did not have to pay overweight charges. Very important when you have two suitcases each; full of heavy dive and underwater photography gear.

Atlantis Resort
At the resort, we were greeted with smiles by the staff, who presented us with a fresh, cold coconut with a straw in it. The resort grounds were immaculate, groomed daily by a small army of gardners to keep the landscaping healthy and beautiful.

There were three of us, sharing a suite. Randy and I took the larger room with a king bed and Chris got the smaller room with two twin beds. Our suite had a private patio with a view of the waterfall that fell into the fresh-water pool. The patio also had a hammock for lounging and racks for drying towels, bathing suits etc… The room was small and not truly adequate for two persons with the amount of underwater photography gear that we had, but we made do, working sometimes on the floor or the bed. There was a small desk that we used, mostly to hold the laptop. We promptly unplugged the TV that was on top of the refridgerator and put it on the floor in the closet to clear up an electricity outlet and space for battery chargers.

And on to the diving!
The dive manager’s name is Klaus. He kept the dive operation going smoothly, accommodating guest requests and making sure everyone had safe and happy diving. Once you have set up your dive gear the first day the crew takes care of it the rest of your stay there. You take care of your mask, snorkel, fins and wetsuit they take care of the rest. The guides were all local and were excellent at finding critters for our cameras. A couple of our favorites were  Jenie and Ricky, but Roswell and Vernie were great also. The boat captains and crew were friendly, helpful and careful when handling our camera systems. We had no reservations when they carried them to and from the boat or when handing into or out of the water. We were quite enthusiastic when we had a good dive and the crew would get caught up in the excitement as we told them about it, and showed them the images on the camera LCD’s. They liked us. When we were loudly celebrating a dive one day one of the other divers said we Americans “dive crazy.” We do like to have fun. 😉

Favorite Dive Sites
Our favorite dive sites were the Car Wrecks, Bangka Wreck and Sahara. We dove the Bangka Wreck four times, and the Car Wrecks and Sahara three or four times (lost track). At the Bangka Wreck, there were several different kinds of ghost pipefish, plus seahorses, porcelain crabs and a Pegasus Sea Moth. Car Wrecks also had several kinds of pipefish, a cuttlefish, a mantis shrimp, and a really tiny frogfish. At Sahara we also found frogfish, some nice nudibranchs, lot’s of fish and a yellow spotted eel.

Ornate Ghost Pipefish Cluster Together

Ornate Ghost Pipefish Cluster Together

Another dive we liked was a shallow dive in the seagrass off Dauin. There were lot’s of critters in the seagrass. Seahorses in several colors, pipefish of different kinds, frogfish, sea moths, nudibranchs and more. A dive that we really like when the current wasn’t blasting through was DuCoMi Pier. There are actually two piers, one smaller than the other, and both covered in brightly colored soft corals. Hiding around the corals were frogfish, nudibranchs, and many fish.

Apo Island
We did take the day trip to Apo Island and really enjoyed it. The island is a reserve and the reefs were quite healthy. There we shot wide-angle images of the reefs, the wall, turtles, each other. Sometimes we get a little carried away, having too much fun, taking pictures of each other. When you take the day trip to Apo Island an excellent lunch is packed for you and on the ride to the island you can enjoy the beautiful scenery of the island of Negros, and the view of Apo Island getting closer and closer. After eating lunch we went on shore to purchase Apo Island t-shirts and sarongs from the local villagers. Then after the last dive a sleepy group of divers head back to the resort and dinner. We only did Apo Island one day but many divers went back several times.

In Closing
Although there were dives we enjoyed, there were limited dives sites that you don’t have to pay extra for, and by the end of nine days of diving we had become tired of the limitation. We were a little disappointed in the lack of good dive sites and limited available photo subjects. If we had to do it over again, we would spread our trip between two resorts, making Atlantis our final stop before coming home. We heard that there are some areas of really fantastic diving where the accomodations are not as nice as Atlantis. It might be nice to go to one of those resorts first then on to Atlantis to relax and enjoy the resorts amenities.

In summary, we had a good time and may go back someday…during a multi-location diving tour of the Philippines.

Philippine Trip Report

I hope you enjoy our images. If you have any questions please email me at kathy@divermaiden.com.

Links:
Atlantis Dive Resort
Reef & Rainforest Dive & Adventure Travel